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Dinabandhu Sahu Vs. the State of Orissa - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMedia and Communication;Contempt of Court
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal Nos. 39 and 40 of 1969
Reported inAIR1972SC180; 1972CriLJ39; (1972)4SCC761; 1972(4)LC231(SC)
AppellantDinabandhu Sahu;santosh Kumar Sahu
RespondentThe State of Orissa;The State of Orissa
Appellant Advocate A.S.R. Chair,; Gobind Das and; B.R.G.K. Achar, Advs
Respondent Advocate Santosh Chatterjee, ; R.N. Sachthey, Advs.
Excerpt: a symbol of goods were not recognised. it is for parliament to take appropriate steps to amend the law and it is not for courts to legislate under the guise of interpretation. [275 g] - chari said that the appellants would have been prepared to give such an apology in writing, if that was the only thing that was required and even now are ready and willing to do so we feel that the apology tendered on their behalf by their senior advocate can well be accepted and the proceedings closed......file of high court of orissa filed a petition described as 'representation petition' before the chief justice, hon'ble shri s. barman and his companion justices, praying that their lordships may consider if it amounts to a contempt of high court and to take whatever steps the law of the land calls for. it appears that this petition was in respect of the flag hoisting function held in the high court of orissa on the republic day january 26, 1968 at about 11.30 a. m. at which the governor of orissa dr. khosla, chief minister shri singh deo, dr. mahtab, an ex-chief minister of that state and many others including the president of the advocates association, the advocate of the high court, dinabandhu sahu who was ex-minister and ex advocate general of orissa and others were present. at.....

P. Jaganmohan Reddy, J.

1. These two appeals are by Certificate against the Judgment of the Orissa High Court convicting the Appellants for contempt of the High Court and imposing a fine of Rs. 300/-on the Appellant Santosh Kumar Sahu and Rs. 100/-on the Appellant, Dinabandhu Sahu It appears that Santosh Kumar Sahu who was a party to a Writ Petition No. 418 of 1967 on the file of High Court of Orissa filed a petition described as 'representation petition' before the Chief Justice, Hon'ble Shri S. Barman and his companion Justices, praying that their Lordships may consider if it amounts to a contempt of High Court and to take whatever steps the law of the land calls for. It appears that this petition was in respect of the Flag Hoisting function held in the High Court of Orissa on the Republic Day January 26, 1968 at about 11.30 a. m. at which the Governor of Orissa Dr. Khosla, Chief Minister Shri Singh Deo, Dr. Mahtab, an ex-Chief Minister of that State and many others including the President of the Advocates Association, the Advocate of the High Court, Dinabandhu Sahu who was ex-Minister and ex Advocate General of Orissa and others were present. At that function the Chief Justice made a speech at which he commenced the address by particular reference to the Governor Dr. Khosla, Chief Minister Shri Singh Deo and Dr. Mahtab. In the speech he also made a pointed reference to the presence of Dr. H. K. Mahtab, the former Chief Minister of Orissa and said that he had played an effective part in having a separate High Court for Orissa. The Chief Justice seems to have had a tower constructed in the High Court and had been instrumental in renovating and adding to the present High Court with lawns and a fountain, on the completion of which he took great pride. The Republic Day was made an occasion for the speech at which he traced the process through which the judiciary in the State developed culminating in the establishment and functioning of the High Court at Orissa. He said in this process of steady progress, 'came the dream of the present Chief Justice-myself for a High Court with a Tower and a Fountain surrounded by green lawns and flower gardens as in a Temple with a. 'Fountain of Justice' '. It is unnecessary to further examine the speech made by him except to say that this gave rise to certain misunderstandings in the public mind particularly among the rival political factions in the Orissa State which as Mr. Chari, the learned Advocate for the Appellants, described were at that time locked up in a bitter political struggle. About this time a Commission of Enquiry had been appointed by the Government of Orissa which was headed by Mr. Justice H.R. Khanna of the Delhi High Court, as he then was, to enquire into the conduct of 15 persons who at one time or the other were Ministers between 1961-66. Three of these persons against whom the enquiry was being conducted had filed Writ Petitions in the High Court of Orissa one was filed by Mr. Jagannatha Rao, former Minister in that State, being O. J. C No. 396 of 1967, the second was by Mr. Biren Mitra, a former Chief Minister, being O. J. C. No. 408 of 1967 and the third by Mr. Santosh Kumar Sahu, a former Deputy Minister of Co-operative, Mining and Forest, being O. J. C. No. 418 of 1967. In this latter Writ Petition Mr. B. N. Singh Deo, Chief Minister and Dr. H. K. Mahtab, former Chief Minister and leader of the party which was supporting the coalition were two of the Respondents. From 9-1-68 to 17-1-68 the arguments in these petitions were heard and on the latter date the judgment was reserved. Two of the Judges who heard these petitions were also present at the Flag Hoisting function on the Republic Day at the time when the Chief Justice made the speech, which was the subject matter of the representation petition. It appears news of the speech of the learned Chief Justice on the Republic Day was given in the 'Kalinga' an Orissa newspaper on the 28th January 1968. On 30-1-68 Santosh Kumar Sahu filed the alleged offending representation petition. On 31-1-68 there appears to have been an editorial comment in the 'Kalinga' newspaper. On 1-2-68 there was another news item and on 2-2-68 one Sarat Chandra Biswal filed a petition in the High Court for action being taken against the Editor, of the 'Kalinga'. On the representation petition addressed to the Chief Justice and his companion Judges by the Appellant Santosh Kumar Sahu certain objections were raised by the Stamp Examiner and when the matter came up before the Chief Justice and A. Misra, J. it was rejected with the observations that the petition contained derogatory statements in paragraphs 3, 7, 12 to 17 and 20 to 25 against the Orissa High Court in general and the Chief Justice in particular, scandalising or having a tendency to scandalise the Orissa High Court and its Honourable Judges, undermining its dignity in the estimation of the public, and impeaching its impartiality in dispensation of justice. As the Stamp Reporter had pointed out among other defects, that no opposite party has been mentioned and that the relief sought for is vague, it was observed that it was not a question of removal of defects but of the petitioner's liability in filing such a petition containing derogatory statements and accordingly a notice was directed to be issued against Shri Santosh Kumar Sahu and also against Shri Dinabandhu Sahu as Advocate for the petitioner for supporting the petition and against Shri B. H. Das and Shri S. F. Ahmad, Advocates who along with Dinabandhu Sahu had signed the Vakalatnama in the aforesaid case, to show cause why they should not be committed for contempt. These notices were made returnable on 15-2-68. It is not necessary in view of the statement made by Mr. Chari on behalf of his clients before us to set out the details of what happened on 9-2-68 or 15-2-68 except to say that after the returns were filed and the matter came up on 15-2-68 the learned Chief Justice thought it necessary to give an account of how the 'events happened on 26th January 1968 at the function and specifically stated that if he had not listed the case before him, he would not have been in a position to explain the circumstances and remove certain misapprehensions in the mind of the public'.

2. After this explanation was given the Appellants say that they had stated before the learned Chief Justice and A. Misra, J. who were hearing the petition that they would not have filed the representation petition had they known all the circumstances which were explained by the learned Chief Justice and prayed through Mr. Chari appearing on behalf of the opposite party that they may be forgiven. This fact emerges also from the judgment of the learned Chief Justice who in paragraph 57 said that Mr. Chari appearing on behalf of all the opposite parties asked for forgiveness of the Court as he put it publicly in open Court. The other learned Judge A. Misra, J, also stated that this was so and that it was given particularly in view of the strained relations which existed between the rival political parties and which led to some misunderstanding of the whole situation, but he pointed out that except for this the Respondents at no stage have chosen to express any regret or tender apology. The learned Chief Justice also stated that there was nothing in writing either by way of an apology nor has regret been tendered in the Court. Mr. Chari before us pointed out, with some justification that if all that the Court wanted was a written apology by the Appellants there would have been no hesitation in their giving it as the very cause for their apprehension had been removed, by the explanation given by the learned Chief Justice to remove any misunderstanding in the public mind, which misunderstanding no longer existed after that explanation. Though the case was fully argued, even before us the learned Advocate on behalf of his clients made the following statement expressing their apology:

My client had already expressed that the misunderstandings which caused them to file the petition the subject matter of the contempt proceedings had been removed by the explanation given by the learned Chief Justice and stated that if they had known this, they would never have written it. In view of this they had also asked for the forgiveness of the Court out of its generosity. I have, therefore, no hesitation at all in offering unconditional apology on their behalf for having written the petition. On behalf my clients, I again repeat that and tender an unqualified apology for presenting the petition.

The learned Advocate for the State of Orissa Mr. Chatterjee frankly conceded that having regard to this apology which has again been reiterated the proceedings may be dropped. We think that this is a correct and proper attitude to adopt in respect of these proceedings. Whatever may have been the justification for the High Court to initiate the proceedings in respect of a matter, which in the state of the atmosphere then prevailing was likely to create a suspicion, whether justifiable or imaginary, in the public mind and particularly in the mind of the litigants, by the circumstance that a person who is a Respondent in a case where a judgment was reserved was given prominence and referred to in terms of praise or eulogy, that situation had changed after the learned Chief Justice had given an explanation for the reasons why Dr. Mahtab was given a seat among the few selected persons at the Buffet lunch and other matters incidental thereto. The apology tendered was not merely an apology but was something more than an apology because what was asked of the Court out of its generosity was forgiveness; that this was sincerely meant is amply demonstrated by its being repeated again before us We think that the contempt if any has been certainly purged in the manner in which the apology was given and the matter should have been set at rest there. It is no part of the judicial function to be vindictive or allow any personal or other considerations to enter in the discharge of its functions and since both the learned Chief Justice and Misra, J. would have been prepared to accept that apology if it was given by the Appellants themselves and in writing and since Mr. Chari said that the Appellants would have been prepared to give such an apology in writing, if that was the only thing that was required and even now are ready and willing to do so we feel that the apology tendered on their behalf by their Senior Advocate can well be accepted and the proceedings closed. We accordingly allow the appeals, set aside the convictions and direct the repayment of the fine, if any, and close the proceedings.

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